"Down the Yangtze, the awful prediction has been fulfilled. You expect this river trip to be an experience of the past, and it is. But it is also a glimpse of the future. In a hundred years or so, under a cold uncolonized moon, what we call the civilized world will all look like China, muddy and senile and oldfangled: no trees, no birds, and shortages of fuel and metal and meat, but plenty of pushcarts, cobblestones, ditch diggers, and wooden inventions. Nine hundred million farmers splashing through puddles and the rest of the population growing weak and blind working the crashing looms in black factories.
Forget rocket ships, supertechnology, moving sidewalks, and all the rubbishy hope in science fiction. No one will ever go to Mars and live. A religion has evolved from the believe that we have a future in outer space, but it is a half-baked religion, a little like Mormonism or the cargo cult. Our future is the mildly poisoned earth and its smoky air. We are in for hunger and hard work, the highest stage of poverty -no starvation, but crudeness, everywhere, political art, simple language, bad books, brutal laws, plain vegetables, and clothEs of one color. It will be damp and dull, monochrome and crowded -how could it be different? There will be no star wars or galactic empires and no more money to waste on the loony nationalism in space programs. Our grandchildren will probably live in a version of China. On the dark brown banks of the Yangtze the future has already arrived."
Paul Theroux, Fresh Air Fiend
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